- Last Updated on 18 October 2010
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Their eyes tell a story of a traumatic past, a past long gone but never forgotten. Scotching reminders of the pain and humiliation suffered remain; fatherless children, sexually transmitted diseases and seclusion by their own families. This is the heart wrenching reality of thousands of Zimbabwean women who faced the wrath of ZANU PF youth and some members of the military at the height of political violence in Zimbabwe.
These women were sexually abused, some raped in the full glare of their offspring while others had guns and blunt sticks shoved up their private parts. "He went ahead to ask, 'sei wakashamira mutengesi?' (Why are you dressed in skimpy clothes for a sellout?). He walked towards me and lifted my nightdress before raping me once in front of my nine month old son, € Mrs Munengami said narrating her ordeal to the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.
Very few of these women are like Mrs. Munengami who has recounted her story over and over again and has courageously spoken out on the abuses. The culmination of her courage and determination was exhibited on the 14th of July 2010 when she, together with 44 other survivors of politically motivated rape launched the Doors of Hope Development Trust at the Harare International Conference Centre (HICC).
The objective of the Trust is to assist rape victims (especially politically motivated rape and victims of all forms of sexual abuse) to develop their own potential to handle post traumatic events of rape or sexual abuse. Speaking at the launch, Mrs. Munengami appealed to well wishers to assist the Trust with support and funds so that they can change the lives of rape survivors. "One of the objectives of the Trust is to lobby government and other responsible authorities to avail and implement policies that accommodate victims and survivors of politically motivated rape €. She also highlighted the need to promote healthy living for victims through treatment, counselling and education on issues relevant to them.
Mrs. Munengami, together with Ms. Mary Pamire, also a survivor of rape narrated the challenges they encountered that inspired them to form the organisation. In 2009, the two took it upon themselves and located other women who had also been raped and formed Doors of Hope. Mrs. Munengami acknowledged individuals and organisations that assisted them including gender activist Ms Luta Shaba and the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU).
The trust has a total of 45 women all of whom are rape survivors who are now faced with many challenges including high costs of seeking medical treatment for ailments such as HIV/AIDS and STI and for prenatal care for women who unfortunately fell pregnant due to rape. Rape is economically, physically and socially devastating.
Since the colonial era, grave human rights abuses have been committed including rape yet many people have turned a blind eye on the plight of rape victims. According to a report by the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association (ZWLA), in 2002 alone, close to 1,000 women were held in youth militia camps in cases of forced concubinage which is a form of politically motivated rape. Perpetrators of such crimes remain free while the lives of survivors have been shattered.
The Coalition commends the bold step taken by these women and calls upon the inclusive government to take concrete steps towards bringing perpetrators of politically motivated violence, including rape to book and to assist the survivors of such.